The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recently announced the settlement of a lawsuit it initiated against identity theft protection company, Lifelock in July of 2015 and about which I reported to you in the Scam of the day for July 23rd. In the lawsuit, Lifelock was accused of not living up to the terms of an earlier 2010 settlement with the FTC as well as 35 state attorneys general regarding charges that Lifelock used misleading and deceptive advertising as well as failed to adequately protect the security of the personal data of its customers including Social Security numbers and credit card numbers. According to the FTC, Lifelock violated the 2010 settlement by failing to maintain a comprehensive information security program to protect its users’ sensitive personal data, including credit card numbers, Social Security numbers and bank account numbers as well as by falsely advertising that it protected consumers’ sensitive data with the same high-level safeguards as financial institutions.
In announcing the settlement FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said, “The fact that consumers paid Lifelock for help in protecting their sensitive personal information makes the charges in this case particularly troubling.” This fine represents the largest fine ever collected by the FTC for the failure to live up to a previous agreement with the FTC. The funds collected from Lifelock will be returned to harmed Lifelock customers. I will inform you as further details become available as to how the money will be returned.
The charges of failing to protect customers’ personal information is very disturbing to Lifelock customers because any company holding such tremendous amounts of personal information would be a prime target of hackers and identity thieves. It is also important to remember that neither Lifelock nor any of the other identity theft protection services are able to truly protect you from identity theft. They merely help you take certain steps to reduce your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft and help you monitor your accounts to let you know sooner if you become a victim of identity theft. In fact, none of the identity theft protection services assist you in putting a credit freeze on your credit report which may be the single best step you can take to protect yourself from identity theft. You can find instructions for putting a credit freeze on your credit reports here on Scamicide by putting the words “credit freeze” into the “Search this Website” section at the top right hand corner of this page. None of the things that any of these companies do for you are things you cannot do for yourself at less cost. In fact, although it is obviously self-serving, the cost of my book “Identity Theft Alert” in which I provide you with precise steps you can take to help protect yourself from identity theft is less than a month’s cost of most identity theft protection services.